7 Surprising Tips to Fire Up Benefit Auction Bidding

Hint: Put Your Pre-Auction Marketing on Steroids!

OK, who really wants or needs a Silent Auction or Live Auction Item?

NOBODY…

Unless you intensely market your auction items BEFORE your benefit auction, you may be leaving thousands of dollars in the room.

Why? In the not so distant past, nonprofit and school auctions could always count on their guests bidding on everything and anything with out much pre-auction promotion.

Bidding behaviors of charity auction goers have changed in this new economy.

Here is the good news, charitable giving is up* and benefit auctions are booming! However, auction guests are far more strategic and discriminating about bidding at charity auctions that ever before. Why? First, purchasing patterns for the demographics of “baby boomers” and “millennials” have changed and savvy donors are showing a preference to donate directly to the mission at the inspiring Fund-a-Need Appeal rather than fighting through crowds in the silent auction or bidding on lackluster live items.

More than ever, nonprofits, charity and school auction committees must intensely market auction items BEFORE their auction event to vastly increase their fundraiser auctions bottom line.

Leverage these 7 key auction item marketing ideas now:

  1. Prepare Your Auction Attendees To Bid High! Create excitement about your amazing auction items – right now. Generate buzz immediately when you procure that terrific Tuscany trip or fantastic five-course dinner for 12 at the hottest new restaurant. Remember, it takes time for your auction guests to contact their friends, check and hold date for trips and to get their friends fired up to bid high on those group items. Make it easy to bid. Create the expectation that your guests are ready to wave those bid cards for your fabulous auction items.
  2.  All fundraising is personal.  Talk up your auction items personally. Research your top bidders for the last 3-5 years. Make a list of who bought what at your auction. For example: who bid on trips, and dinners and sporting experiences? Deputize your auction leadership to actively talk with your top past bidders and promote your new hot items in the categories they adore. And by all means – feature your items at your Auction Committee meetings, Board and staff meetings!

  3. Leverage your auction webpage.  Make sure that your auction webpage includes full descriptions, links, donor links, photos and special notes about the items. Place a button graphic on your home page that says: “Check out our awesome auction items now”  Get creative! Drive bidders to your website!

  4. Highlight auction items in your invitation. Personalize your your invitations – Board and Auction Committee members can handwrite a personal note about a premium auction item that will appeal to that particular guest – and follow up with a personal call.

  5. Create an specialized auction item email campaign. Feature your auction items to your entire email list or newsletter and blogs.Design a mini-campaign that will features your silent and live items. Each issue can highlight a few of your items in depth with photos, testimonials and in-depth descriptions.

  6. Accept absentee bids and phone bids. Invite your supporters to offer an absentee bid or phone bid even if they cannot attend your fundraising auction.  (As a thank you for reading this far, email me kathy@kingstonauction.com  I’ll send you my complimentary Fundraising Auction Absentee and Phone Bid Guidelines)

  7. Leverage all of your social media outlets. The last thing I want to talk about is make sure you use all the avenues with your social media, your Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog, and Facebook. Ask your auction leadership, sponsors, donors and volunteer to promote auction items in their social media. The average person has about 200+ people in their own personal circle of influence and ask them to support you by reaching out with their influence through social media and other areas. Remember – combining all of these techniques and enlisting the creativity of your auction committee in marketing your event will ensure your benefit auction success.

(*Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report 2012 and Cygnus Donor Survey 2012)

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